MGWCC #130 -- Friday, Nov. 26th, 2010 -- "Linkin' Continental"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 130 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


Five true enemies -- well, five true rivals at least -- revealed themselves to 166 solvers in last week's grid. That group noticed that the second word of the puzzle's theme phrases concealed an enemy/rival of the first word. Our cobra-mongoose pairings were:


Where was the fifth? At 19-across and 38-down, namely IBM SNAPPLES, where the second word reveals the ancient though waning IBM-APPLE rivalry. I naturally also accepted as correct the two entries that read SNAPPLES IBM, since no particular order was indicated.

[Mini-puzzle: one theme answer I couldn't fit was the 15-letter {What Greeks put in their coffee?}. Answer at the bottom of today's post.]

Lots of sneaky in last week's puzzle: it was gratifying to hear how many people fell into the NUT (20-a) and ENAMEL (22-a) traps, which were intentional. But I was also kicking myself for not even noticing the WAPNER trap at 1-d, especially since it fits so well with NUT.

While submitting his correct answer, Andrew Ries adds:

Cuz I didn’t find CONAN NEEDLENOSE anywhere in the grid

Laura Dove took an intriguing path:

I'd just about given up. I was sure it had to do with (15A) ANAkin (65D)SKYwalker and (60D)OBIt(62A)WAN but there was no making that work. Then I looked at (54A)IPO and thought of iPod and was searching the grid for an entry that started with D and included ZUNE. That's when I noticed APPLE. Devilish!

Meanwhile, Scott Weiss caught a break that led him right to the meta:

I got it quickly mainly because your cluing was very hard. I had lots of holes in the grid until the bottom theme entry which looked basically like VHS--BETA--. So it was pretty clear to me early what was happening.

Justin Redd found another solution, valid except for one point:

This one is too many letters, but could fit as well:


I hadn't noticed the ATARI-NES connection, but I had speculated that there might be other reasonable answers lurking in the grid besides IBM SNAPPLES. Ergo I threw in the "beta-blocking" stipulation that the answer must be exactly eleven letters long -- fortunately, it worked!

And finally: regarding 1-down, Jim Sherman wrote:

I was so distraught over the news of Ed Koch's death that I couldn't concentrate on the meta this week!

When I first read this e-mail I assumed that the ex-mayor of New York had passed away since last Friday's publication. Then I re-read the clue to 1-down and figured it out. Hint: Koch is alive and well.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 166 correct entries received, is Steve M. of Highland, Ill. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Steve will also receive an autographed copy of my book Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


This week's contest answer is one of the seven continents.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer continent in the subject line of your e-mail.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,374 members now!) here.

Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

Mini-puzzle answer: ATHENS ASPARTAME

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